October is the month of the Rosary, most likely due to the fact that the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is October 7. Obviously, I'm now late writing about October 7, but better late than never, I suppose. On October 7, 1571, the Holy League—soldiers from Catholic countries of Europe—defeated the Ottoman Turks at the naval Battle of Lepanto. It was a major upset and was hugely significant regarding the trajectory of Western civilization. In the run up to the battle, Pope St. Pius V urged the Catholics of Europe to pray the rosary, asking Our Lady's intercession. October 7 was originally dedicated to Our Lady of Victory in thanksgiving for the major victory in battle, but the emphasis has now shifted to Our Lady of the Rosary. October 7 is an important feast day in our diocese, as our diocese and our cathedral in Toledo are under the patronage of Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.
The rosary is rightly viewed as the most prominent form, the bedrock of Marian devotion. However, any true devotion to Mary leads us closer to her Son, and the same is true of the rosary. Yes, it is a form of Marian piety, but the rosary is above a prayer focused on Jesus Christ. The rosary is more than just the repetitive praying of the Hail Mary; it's a meditative prayer reflecting upon the mysteries of Christ's life. An important note here: mystery comes from the Greek meaning “secret.” By praying the rosary, we are asking Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God, to help us better know and reflect upon the “secrets” of Christ's life.
The rosary leads us through the life of Christ. In the joyful mysteries, we meditate upon the early years in Christ's life: the Annunciation (Archangel Gabriel announce to Mary that she is to be the mother of the Son of God), the Visitation (Mary visiting cousin Elizabeth), the Nativity/birth of Jesus Christ, the Presentation in the Temple, and finding Jesus in the temple after He had been “lost” by Mary and Joseph. In the luminous mysteries, we focus on Jesus' public ministry: Jesus's baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, Jesus's first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God, the Transfiguration, and the institution of the Holy Eucharist. In the sorrowful mysteries, we reflect on Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the scourging of Jesus, Jesus being crowned with thorns, Jesus carrying the cross, and the crucifixion of Jesus. In the glorious mysteries, we look to our future glory and the basis for it: the Resurrection; the Ascension of Jesus in to heaven; the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heaven; and the crowning of Mary as Queen of heaven and earth.
The rosary is a powerful prayer, leading us closer to Christ through Mary and bringing our prayers and intentions to Christ through Mary. Since October is also a Respect Life month and a month in which we remember World Missions, bringing the Gospel to all corners of the world, may we pray the rosary for our own intentions, for a greater respect of all life, for success in the missions, and in order to grow closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. Have a great week!